True alkaloids derive from amino acid and they share a heterocyclic ring with nitrogen. These alkaloids are highly reactive substances with biological activity even in low doses. All true alkaloids have a bitter taste and appear as a white solid, with the exception of nicotine which has a brown liquid. True alkaloids form water-soluble salts. Moreover, most of them are well-defined crystalline substances which unite with acids to form salts. True alkaloids may occur in plants (1) in the free state, (2) as salts and (3) as N-oxides. These alkaloids occur in a limited number of species and families, and are those compounds in which decarboxylated amino acids are condensed with a non-nitrogenous structural moiety. The primary precursors of true alkaloids are such amino acids as L-ornithine, L-lysine, L-phenylalanine/L-tyrosine, L-tryptophan and L-histidine23 32. Examples of true alkaloids include such biologically active alkaloids as cocaine, quinine, dopamine, morphine and usambarensine (Figure 4). A fuller list of examples appears in Table 1.
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